A man accused of killing his mother by setting her on fire told jurors the devastating fire was started by accident while he was lighting a cigarette.
Mark See, 34, said he loved his mother Sandra See “more than anything”, as he recalled how desperately he tried to save her.
Ms See, 63, had to be identified by a metal plate in her leg after she died in the fire at the bungalow they shared with his girlfriend on Darras Road in Gorton.
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Prosecutors allege he intentionally started the fire in the early hours of July 13, after throwing gasoline at his mother following a “furious” argument.
Her son said the couple had a fight and went to get some petrol to ‘get a reaction’ after his mum said she wanted him gone.
Mr See said he picked up a six-quart milk carton, which he used to store petrol for a lawn mower, with the intention of his mother and girlfriend Natalie Hughes thinking that he was going to do “something stupid”.
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‘Why did you have petrol making them think you were going to do something stupid to yourself?’ his lawyer Mark Rhind QC asked him as Mr See gave evidence at Manchester Crown Court.
“Because I had said things like that in the past, I left and said I would crash my car into a wall after arguments,” Mr See said.
Mr See, who had been drinking whiskey and coke, said he was holding the carton in one hand and holding a cigarette in the other.
“I remember going to light a cigarette that had gone out,” he said.
“I took a lighter to light it.”
Mr Rhind asked: “Did you think before you lit the cigarette, if it could be dangerous or stupid?
“No,” replied the accused.
“Then it exploded, there were flames everywhere,” he continued.
“I was shocked and scared, I panicked.”
When the fire spread, Ms See got up from the sofa but fell forward, he said.
“I grabbed a quilt from behind the sofa and wrapped it around my mum and tried to put out the fire.
“I tried to roll her up and smother her to put out the flames but the duvet caught on fire.
“She was screaming.
“I was still trying and then the flames became violent, I couldn’t reach my mother.
“I heard my mother croak.”
“What does this mean to you?” Mr. Rhind asked.
“My mother had just died in front of me.”
The QC continued: “How did you feel about it?
“Heartbroken,” he said.
Jurors heard that just under two minutes after the fire started, Mr See walked away from the scene.
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He was discovered by police 16 hours after the fire, in a fetal position in a cemetery near Manchester Airport a few hours later.
Mr See said he did not know why he drove there and left the house believing his mother had died.
When asked what he remembered about that time, he replied, “I just remember looking up at the sky and hearing voices and creaks, it was the police.”
He was arrested and questioned by the police, where he made no comment.
Asked why he didn’t answer questions, Mr See said: “I was confused and still in shock, and traumatized by what had happened.
“I couldn’t remember what happened, I could only remember certain bits.
“I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t.”
“What do you think now of what happened that night, which led to your mother dying, being killed?” Mr Rhind asked.
“I am traumatized and lost,” replied the accused.